Joint Ownership of Patents

In the United States, when an invention is made by two or more persons jointly, they shall apply for a patent jointly under 35 U.S.C. 116. The Patent Act states in 35 U.S.C. 262:

In the absence of any agreement to the contrary, each of the joint owners of a patent may make, use, offer to sell, or sell the patented invention within the United States, or import the patented invention into the United States, without the consent of and without accounting to the other owners.

One of the notable features of jointly owned U.S. Patents are that joint owners are free to unilaterally make, use, offer to sell, sell or import the patented invention without the need for consent from the other owners.  Similarly, joint owners are free to unilaterally license or assign their interest without the need for consent from the other owners.  However, in other countries, an owner’s right to make and use, license, or assign may vary significantly, and the owner may have an obligation to share profits.
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